Forensics team works to win it all

They have already won nearly 200 awards. They defended the Collegiate Forensics Association national title for the sixth year in a row. They’ve won 14 awards as a team, and they are not done yet.

Describing their feelings with words such as “nervous,” “apprehensive,” “excited” and “focused,” the Forensics team is up to defend their state title in two weeks.

Senior team member Michelle Baker calls Ohio a very competitive state.

“We’re the underdogs,” said coach Paul Alday. Whereas other teams scout for their members, the University waits for someone to walk through the door.

Most join for the experience, which can benefit many majors such as marketing, teaching and law. Others join to get over their fear of public speaking. Some IPC majors take it as a 1-credit hour course.

The team describes a tournament as being like a track meet. Each member participates in five of 12 events. Some have one speech they carry through the entire season. Others, such as debate, change from tournament to tournament.

Alday and his graduate assistant spend two to three hours with each member a week in preparation. Competitions against 10 to 12 other schools are then held nearly every weekend, though it is not required to attend each one.

Baker described an “explosion on our team” this year, with 10 active novices and freshmen.

An “education-based team,” forensics can help a person to better organize their thoughts and speak before other people, but what is important is what they can do with the skills they learn. Many forensics team members go on to great careers.

The past two faces of Fox News have been members. Leah D’Emilio is now moving on to Los Angeles television. Abby Bollenbacher has moved on to the Washington Speaker’s Bureau. Shelly Nickson is now in five shows in Chicago when, according to Alday, it is difficult to get just one.

Some members also belong to Pi Kappa Delta, a Greek organization supporting forensics and the University chapter tied in nationals this year and will be attending a tournament at Central Michigan University over spring break.

Although students are advised against joining the Forensics team mid-season, some still do so. Newcomers can still attend events and grow more comfortable with the club.

“There’s very strong team support,” Baker said. “”We are a team.”

Pirates of the Competition will be held at the University on Feb. 24. Also that weekend at the University is the Mucopolysaccharide Charity Tournament on the 25th. All fees go to funds for research on MPS, a degenerative, life-threatening disease. Everyone is invited to attend either competition to observe.